Each era in time has its very own jazz movement. In the ’80s & ’90s, it was called the Young Lions. 

Led by Wynton Marsalis and peers, the music of the Young Lions worked to bring back the essence of traditional jazz. Along with Marsalis, artists like Avery Sharpe, Roy Hargrove and Mark Whitfield rejected the sound of jazz fusion and other hybrids. They modeled their music after the likes of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and pre-jazz fusion Miles. 

Artists of the Young Lions served as rebels of their era because they would not conform to commercialized jazz. By going back to the roots of jazz, Marsalis and others played structured pieces that didn’t just focus on groove. They brought back the swing, scat, complicated chords, improvisation, and rhythms of trad, bebop, and modal jazz. They played the elements of music that made them fall in love with jazz in the first place. 

Today, Marsalis oversees a $1 million jazz program at Juilliard School of Music’s Lincoln Center, where he was a student. Here, young proteges play with older musicians and perform music by icons in jazz such as Jelly Roll Morton. 

Angela Brown

Angela Brown

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